Sunday, January 22, 2012

Appearances and Baggage

"....for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."
God spoke those words to Samuel when he thought that God's choice of a king for Israel was standing before him. 
Samuel was wrong. 
The man looked like a leader, but Papa was looking past the outward appearance and saw his heart.

Papa brought His words home to me this past week.

I often have shared with others that we dare not judge one another. 
We all carry some baggage around with us and we really have no idea what is in another's bags. 

All that those bags contain is not bad. 
It is simply an accumulation of what has filled our lives up to the present.
It is up to our God alone to judge the contents.

A few years ago a dear friend directed a woman to group that I lead.
The lady came faithfully for a number of months.
I found myself challenged to help her allow others time to share.

This woman was not unknown to me before this, as in a few prayer circles her name had come up as in need of prayer.
I formed my opinion of her, as I thought that I had enough information from which to do so.
My judgment was that this person was one of the very needy ones who is generally on the receiving end.

I was wrong.

As I gathered with a few in prayer this past week, this lady joined us.
Her behavior did nothing to change my opinion.  However, someone else, who spoke up at the end of our time together, did.
The speaker grew up with this woman as his neighbor.
She had welcomed many into her home and ministered to many a heart and soul.  It was through her influence that quite a few people met Jesus.
I didn't know she had it in her!

What do I know, huh?!

She has Jesus, so she has all she needs to touch lives. 
Yes, her life had taken some challenging turns, which had put her in a much more dependent position, but that does not take away from the influence she has had in other lives.

Just when I was feeling so confident of my ability to read people....

In First Corinthians the Apostle Paul put it this way:
"Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall."
The writer of the eighteenth chapter of Proverbs said it this way:
"Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling."
Well, I wasn't destroyed, but I did stumble.  I fell flat on my face before my God.
Only He and I knew what was in my heart, but that is all that matters!
We got it all straightened out between us.

Beforehand though one more piece fell into place to humble this haughty woman.

As I arrived for the prayer time I was met by this woman who loves Jesus.  She handed me an envelope, which I put in my purse to open later. This I did once I was back in my car.

The envelope contained a lovely note telling me how special I was.  !
It also contained a check to help wherever needed. !!
Papa and I knew that I had just handed out the last Recovery Bible and would need to order more.

Once again Papa was working through this servant of His.  He has brought her through some of the trials that she had been facing and has allowed her to be able to bless others afresh.

On Friday you can imagine what message I had to share with my friends at the rehab.

I asked them what it means to Fear the LORD.
The answers all reflected the belief that how good (really perfect) we are is most important to God.

I could tell them with conviction that God is looking at our hearts. 
Though we will fail and fall short it is our hearts' attitudes and motives that He sees.

How gracious and kind Papa is.
He lovingly helps us to recognize our failings, our sin and then gives us the desire and strength to bring it all to Him!

First John, One, verse Nine says,
"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
Though this has now been added to my baggage, it is already stored in a way to bless my heart and others!

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